ROBERT M DENMARK, Fordham University


The purpose of the present study was to investigate the relationship among creative thinking, problem solving, and specific elements of classroom climate. The factors of classroom climate included the degree of emphasis on lower-level thinking skills (memory, recall, translation, and interpretation), and higher-level thinking skills (application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation), teacher/student control, and classroom atmosphere. The subjects consisted of 126 male and 124 female fourth, fifth, and sixth grade pupils and their 14 teachers in one elementary school. These children were students in what could be characterized as a suburban, middle-class school district. The majority of the children were Caucasian. Creative thinking, problem solving performance, and cognitive classroom structure were measured by the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, Verbal Forms, the Verbal Maze (Spy Problem), and the Classroom Activities Questionnaire, respectively. School achievement was measured by Reading, Math, and Language scores on the Metropolitan Achievement Test and IQ was measured by the Otis-Lennon Intelligence Test. Three distinct patterns of significant intercorrelations were observed. The first was comprised of Reading, Math, Language achievement, and IQ, ranging from .55 to .64. Second were the four factors of the CAQ, whose significant intercorrelations ranged from .21 to .42, with all of the coefficients for classroom focus being negatively related to the other three factors. Third was the pattern of interrelationships among higher-level thinking skills, lower-level thinking skills and measures of creativity and problem solving. There were significant positive correlations between total fluency and both higher-level skills (.18) and climate (also .18). Problem solving was correlated with both IQ (.54) and Math achievement (.42). Partial correlations among total fluency and the CAQ factors, controlling for, each in turn, Reading, Math, and Language achievement, remained virtually the same as the zero-order correlations. When controlling for IQ, the relationship among the factors of the CAQ and fluency were also not affected. Two-way analyses of variance were computed to examine the variability in classroom perceptions and cognitive measures which were attributable to differences in grade and sex. There were significant grade differences for total fluency, lower-level thinking skills, climate and IQ. Post-hoc Scheffe analyses, at the .10 level, found significantly higher total fluency scores at the fourth than at the fifth grade, but no differences between the fourth and sixth grades. For lower-level skills, the fourth grade was significantly higher than both the fifth and sixth grades. Classroom climate, on the other hand, provided fourth grade scores significantly higher than sixth grade scores, and the fifth grade was not significantly different from either the fourth or sixth grades. No significant main effects for sex and no significant interactions were found. In checking the correspondence of the classroom teacher's ratings of the classroom environment to the classroom means for the same class, 2 of the 4 factors of the CAQ, lower-level skills and climate, were found to be significantly related at the .10 level. There were significant mean differences for lower-level skills, higher-level skills and classroom climate across the 14 classrooms comprising the sample. Post-hoc comparisons determined that while most classrooms in this one school formed a homogeneous set as regards classroom environment, a few classes could be defined as bounding either extreme, and as being significantly different than the mainstream.

Subject Area

Educational psychology

Recommended Citation